I have about .5" of what I believe is a shear wall behind .5" drywall in my apartment. I have one side of the shelf tracks fastened to a stud (but only using 1.5" screws, so only .5" of penetration into the stud). Will I be able to mount the other side of the shelf tracks without hitting a stud?

Also, is there a chance that my shear wall is not made of plywood, and instead is some other, weaker material like MDF or particle board? I am in the Bay Area, CA and I'm guessing the shear wall is for earthquake protection. Thanks!


2 Answers 2


MDF and particle board would not be used in structural applications. You almost certainly have plywood or OSB, both of which are great for hanging things.

That said, at ~1/2" thick there's not a lot of grab to be had. If you put screws in every hole of your shelving track and don't go nuts with loading it'll hold fine. Figure 25 lbs. per screw, roughly speaking. Use screws with larger diameter and coarse threads that go all the way up the shank.

  • Thanks! I did a rough calculation and it would be around 4-6 pounds per screw.
    – Michael M.
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:33
  • I hang plenty of heavy stuff in my shop using only 1/2" OSB. Never a failure in decades. No kids around, though. Would reconsider if there were, those monkeys will try to climb anything.
    – kreemoweet
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:56


Shear walls are designed to resist lateral movement and racking by tying framing members together. This is typically done with plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).

Particle board or MDF wouldn't meet the structural requirements for such an application.

When hanging shelves, I typically shoot for an inch or more penetration depending on the expected load and location of the shelf.

Screws get their pullout strength from the material they're driven into and the depth of penetration. If your screws only hit the OSB and then you load your shelf full of books there is a high chance that it will all end up on the floor. Again, I would be looking to get those screws into studs wherever possible. If you can't get them in on one side consider using some snap toggles. Snag toggles used in conjunction with the plywood/OSB will likely give you a solid mounting location.

  • Would it be okay to screw the shelves into the shear wall without hitting a stud? I am fairly certain that the shear wall material is OSB.
    – Michael M.
    Dec 7, 2023 at 4:54
  • Also the shelf weight would be distributed across 7 screws on each side (14 total).
    – Michael M.
    Dec 7, 2023 at 5:00
  • @MichaelM. The weight added to the shelf is important. A few pictures no problem, something heavy and you probably want more shelf brackets(if only using two). Using the studs would the best, OSB is a lot better than drywall.
    – crip659
    Dec 7, 2023 at 12:30
  • @MichaelM. See my edit.
    – matt.
    Dec 7, 2023 at 13:23

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